Firefighting, Health & Safety, Training

PPE, Heat Stress, and Cardiac Strain: a Study

Issue 12 and Volume 168.

BY DENISE L. SMITH, JEANNIE HALLER, WESLEY K. LEFFERTS, ERIC M. HULTQUIST, AND PATRICIA C. FEHLING Firefighters perform strenuous work in dangerous and unpredictable environments. Despite the numerous dangers on the fireground, the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths (LODDs) among firefighters in the United States is sudden cardiac death, which accounts for approximately 50 percent of deaths.1 Several research studies have shown that firefighting may serve as a trigger for a sudden cardiac event in susceptible individuals; however, the precise mechanisms by which firefighting may lead to a sudden cardiac event are not well defined.2 Figure 1 presents a theoretical model that depicts the relationship between firefighting and cardiovascular strain and the relevance to the fire service. Firefighting involves strenuous work and is performed while wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). Heat stress frequently occurs on the fireground because of the combination of muscular work, impaired heat dissipation associated with the…

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